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AA's report on Islam in Asia

19 August 2012 16:17 (Last updated 21 August 2012 11:52)

Anadolu Agency is broadcasting and presenting the "Islam in Asia" report. AA reports from several locations including China, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore and Thailand.

BEIJING (AA) - August 19, 2012 - Anadolu Agency is broadcasting and presenting the "Islam in Asia" report. 

AA reports from several locations including China, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore and Thailand. In this exclusive file AA will be highlighting the everyday life experiences of Muslims in Asia, their histories, ancient monuments and contacts with Ottoman Empire.
People who live in these countries have interesting stories to tell as their rooted cultures were blended with the Islamic way of living.
The greatest feature of these Muslim communities in Asian countries is that they are united very well even though they are the minority groups within most of these geographically large Asian countries. 
Muslims who live in Far East and South Asia have different life styles than the other Muslims in the rest of the world. Muslims in Asia blended their life styles which was formed by the Asian culture with the culture of Islam and they managed it without abandoning the basic codes of Islam. 
Islam appears in front of you in the Great Mosque of Xi'an city, a calligraphy of Quran on a plaque or at a giant mosque where 200 thousand Muslims can pray, in the furthest country of Asia, Indonesia.
One of the most features of Muslims who live in Asian countries is that they keep united all the time. Islamic societies, education establishments, close relationships between them and their solidarity take great attention.
Muslims still feel Islam after adding the mystic atmosphere and living of Asia.
Even though Asian Muslims met with Islam later on, they kept the religion ongoing. Asian Muslims' culture were influenced from mosques to education centres.
What Asian Muslims have in common is that even though they adopted Islam at different periods, they all had connection to Ottoman Empire and their relations grew when they joined the centre of caliphate during the Sultan Abdulhamid the second.

AA's report on Islam in Asia: China (2)

The history of Islam is rooted in the very old days in China which is located in the farthest east of Asia.
China is a home to many rare artifacts combining Chinese and Islamic culture.
According to researches of Anadolu Agency (AA) correspondents, China hosts a rooted Islamic culture with Great Mosque, Niucie Mosque and Huaixing Mosque in former capital Xi'an, as well as in Beijing and Guangzhou.
Official figures in the country show that 10 of 56 minority races are Muslim, and nearly 30 million Muslims are living in the country. Hui people (Chinese Muslims) are the highest Muslim population in China.
Chinese Muslims are mainly living in northern and northwestern states of China. There is a Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in the north of the country.
Muslims have their own schools and education centers which work together with Islamic Association and Islamic Institute in Beijing.
There are 72 mosques in capital Beijing. Most of them had been built in old dates combining Chinese culture and motives with the Islamic motives.
Xi'an city, which had been the longest-time capital of Chinese dynasties, is also known with the Islamic motives it hosts.
The Great Mosque in Xi'an, which was built in 742, was taken under protection by Chinese government in 1956 as an important historical and cultural work of art. All verses of Quran were carved and imprinted on the wooden inner walls of the mosque.
The mosque has hosted over 10 million visitors including important statesmen from 100 countries so far.
Islam was first introduced in China by Sahaba (companions) of prophet Muhammad namely Sad ibn abi Waqqas (Uncle of Mohammad), and three other Sahabas.
China's oldest known mosque takes place in Guangzhou which is also a home to tombs of Sahabas. The minaret of the mosque is different from the other mosques' minarets in China. The minaret had been used as a lighthouse during the years it was built. Chinese called the mosque as Huaixing (Lighthouse) Mosque which was built in 627. It is known as one of the oldest mosques of the world.
The social complex of Niucie Mosque including Beijing Hamidiye University, which was opened by imam Abdurrahman Vang Kuan and two Ottoman teachers during Sultan Abdulhamid II period, still exists in Beijing.
The school was opened in one of the buildings of Niucie Mosque's social complex, and played an important role in education of Chinese Muslims. The social complex part of the mosque still serves for religious education of Muslims.
Chinese sources accept first contact between Muslim Arabs and China as in 628, while official documents show it as 651. Chinese sources said a Muslim messenger arrived in China from Arabia in 651.
First messenger was sent to China during third Caliph Osman period. The messenger had an official meeting with Chinese emperor, and briefed him about the general situation in Saudi Arabia and Islamic religion.
Talks with China continued too during Abbasids period, and the political relations between China and Arab states gained importance.
Later on, Islam spread across the country through wars and commerce.
Especially during Ming dynasty, Muslims gained a huge esteem. Ming Emperor Hung Wu gave special privileges to Muslims and appointed them to high-level positions in the state.

AA's report on Islam in Asia: Japan

Islam in Japan does not go very back in history compared to the other countries in the region. Japan is the latest country where Islam began spreading among other countries in the Far East.

Most of the historians say that Turk-Tatar relations were one of the main reasons on Islam's spreading in Japan.
There is a belief that a number of Muslims in Japan converted to Islam due to Tatars who immigrated to Japan a century ago.
Tokyo Mosque which was constructed by Turkey, is the center of Islam in Japan.
Not only Turks are using this mosque, but also several nations taking advantages of this holy building to arrange conferences and cultural events.
While "khutbah" is delivered in Turkish, English and Japanese in the mosque during Friday prayer, non-Muslims are allowed to watch Muslims' prayer in a private area within the mosque. With the help of this opportunity, lots of non-Muslims donate some money to the Tokyo Mosque.
It is known that there are 300,000 Muslims living in the country. It is also known that number of Muslims is increasing year by year in Japan.
Authorities in Tokyo Mosque say that every month averagely five people convert to Islam.
After Tatars immigrated to the country, a Muslim community began developing very quickly, and the Muslims' voice began to be heard in 1930s.
After first mosque was erected in Kobe, several buildings for prayers were constructed in different cities of Japan in the following years.
Qurbanali, one of the first Muslims in Japan, took charge of Society of Tokyo Muslims in 1928. Ottoman person Qazan Tatar Abdurrashid Ibraham who wrote a book after travelling in Muslim regions in Asia before moving to Japan, was also another effective Muslim in Japan.

AA's report on Islam in Asia: Indonesia 

BEIJING (AA) - August 20, 2012 - Islam in Indonesia, a country with the largest Muslim population in the world, dates back many years and is a crucial part of the government and social life.
As in most other Asian countries, Islam's roots in Indonesia go back to the time of Holy Prophet Muhammad and his companions. Indonesia met with Islam in ancient times but its acceptance by large groups of people took place many years later.
The "Wayang" shadow play had a great role in spreading Islam and its evolution with a fast pace in Indonesia.
While "Wayang" shadow play has its roots in India and involved Indian tales, the shadow play focused on Islamic values after Islam was introduced and a large number of Indonesians became Muslims after watching the play.
Indonesia was a Dutch colony until 1945. Islam played a great role in the independence of Indonesia, a country with thousands of islands and sultanates.
Indonesia, with a population of 250 million people, gained its independence by establishing unity based on "religion and language".

Istiklal Mosque

The Istiklal Mosque, which happens to be the world's fourth biggest mosque and where 200,000 people can pray at the same time, is regarded as Indonesia's monument representing independence and freedom. The architectural structure of the Istiklal Mosque represents Islamic principles.
Indonesia has a democratic state and the Muslims are the dominating component of the Indonesian society. Accordingly, the Muslims are highly influential in the governance of Indonesia and in the social life.
Aside from the Istiklal Mosque, which was built by public funds, no other Indonesian mosque has organic ties with the Indonesian government.
The needs of mosques and the salaries of those working at mosques are met by individuals praying at mosques and related associations as well as foundations.
The mosques and religious figures have an influential role in the social life of Indonesia. Every mosque is responsible for the Muslims in its area from birth until death.
Indonesian mosques are not merely places of worship. The mosques can be used for lodging purposes by the disadvantaged individuals and travellers. Women can organize separate religious, social and cultural programs in mosques if they wish to do so.

Religious and National Education

The Indonesian government encourages religious education and religion has an important position in the educational system.
Indonesia has two separate educational systems. The Ministry of National Education and the Ministry of Religious Affairs provide services under two separate roofs.
The educational system under the Ministry of Religious Affairs offers courses that are part of the national education program and, at the same time, provides education in Islamic sciences.
The Ministry of Religious Affairs is responsible for education at the Muslim theological schools where Islamic sciences are taught.
Regardless of which educational system they have graduated from, all Indonesian students are presented with a valid diploma.
Indonesia has thousands of Muslim theological schools and millions of students studying at such schools. The majority of students at the Muslim theological schools do not pay any tuition fees.
Indonesian officials say that some of the Muslim theological schools gained excellent reputation with time and, as they got more modernized, they trained individuals who later became prominent figures in the Indonesian government.

-Islamic Organizations-

Islamic principles in Indonesia get implemented by institutionalization. One of the most important institutions is the Alms (Zakat) Organization. The head of Indonesian state gives alms to this organization every year with the hope of being a role model to the nation.
Another organization is responsible for "Halal Food" and high attention is attached to halal certification. Halal certificates are issued by the Assembly of the Ulema. Indonesians view halal food not just as an obligation but as a sensitive issue.

Influence of Ottomans

As in most Asian countries, the Ottomans had a crucial role in spreading Islam all over Indonesia.

As in all regional countries, Indonesia had a deep relationship with the Ottomans. Indonesians have great affection towards the Ottoman state and Turkey.
The Sultanate of Mataram, on the Java island and including the current capital of Jakarta, declared its loyalty to the Ottoman state in the 16th century.
In those years, many other sultanates declared their loyalty to the Ottoman state and accepted the protectorate of the Ottomans.
There are many documents showing the relationship between the sultanates and the Ottoman state.
In a letter sent to Suleyman the Magnificent, the Sultan of Aceh, Alauddin stresses that Aceh was a village of the Ottomans and that he was an attendant of Suleyman the Magnificent.
Such remarks of Alauddin show how influential the Ottomans were in the region, thousands of kilometers away from the Ottoman state.
Historical sources indicate that the region was an important commercial and military base for the Ottomans.
The Ottoman state sent Kaptan-i Derya Sinan Pasha to the region along with a strong naval fleet during the time of Suleyman the Magnificent so that the locals could struggle against the Portuguese. The Ottomans sent troops to the region and provided logistics support.
Throughout history, the Ottomans did not merely provide military and commercial assistance to the region. The Ottomans played an important role in the development of education in the region as well.
The Ottomans accepted many students from the region, including the islands of Sumatra, Java and Aceh, and provided scholarships.
Indonesian officials often stress that Turkey has a great influence in their country. Indonesian Muslims receiving education in Turkey get esteemed positions in the Indonesian government.
Indonesian authorities say that those fellow citizens receiving education in Turkey carry prestige in Indonesia and having been educated in Turkey is viewed as distinction.

AA's report on Islam in Asia: Thailand

Islam is the second largest religion in Thailand with 8 million Muslims who constitute 11 percent of the population of this overwhelmingly Buddhist country.
Thailand's Muslims are an active community in the public and social life, blended with the Buddhists in Bangkok, the country's capital city and the largest urban area, and they mainly populated the southern parts of the country.
The office of the Sheikh ul-Islam, the country's highest Islamic authority, runs daily business such as opening of new schools for Muslims, construction of mosques, charity work for poor Muslim families and education of the youth.
There are more than four thousand mosques and 500 schools providing Islamic education, most of which work in a system of the madrasah.
Muslims in Thailand are allowed to be subject to Islamic laws when they prefer, and although on limited occasions they can run their legal practices in line with the Islamic laws in public life as well.  
Muslims here elect their religious leaders and imams, who in turn elect regional imams. The country's Sheikh ul-Islam and the King's undersecretary for Muslims are elected by the regional imams.  
The media is largely controlled by Buddhists but there are nine TV channels in Bangkok broadcasting Islamic programs.

AA's report on Islam in Asia: Singapore

Islam is one of the main components in Singapore, a small country that is thousands of kilometers far from Turkey.
Singapore with its developed economy is one of distinguished living places in Asia. With its mixed ethnic structure, Singapore houses people from several different religions, races and languages.
Every nation has its own region and neighborhood in the country. There is a region for Muslims in the city center. Masjid Sultan is the oldest mosque in the country. Azan is called out in Masjid Sultan and thousands of Muslims spend time in facilities in this region. Muslims have their own education system and organizations.
About 15 percent of Singapore's population are Muslims, who are one of the most active communities in the country both in social life and also in public field. 
All global fast food chains in the country serve food and products with halal certification. 
There is a great admiration for Ottoman Empire in Singapore as in many other countries in Asia.

First copy of Quran in Malay language from Ottoman period

Muslims in Singapore still maintain several works from Ottoman period and Turks. 
The first copy of Quran in Malay language had been sent by Sultan Abdulhamid, Emperor of the Ottomans, to the region. Muslims in the region made up of several islands learned much about Islam with that Quran in Malay.
Muslims in the country attach a great importance to Ottoman Empire and Turkey.

Singapore in Ottoman documents

Singapore, Indonesia and the region were mentioned in Ottoman documents. 
There are tombs of Ottoman state officials in the country.
Relations with Muslims in the region dated back to old times. Ottoman Frigate Ertugrul had visited Japan and the ship carrying Colonel Enver Pasha's delegation had docked at several ports in Asia. Several Ottoman bureaucrats and travellers had paid visits to Muslim people and their leaders in the region.

Ottoman bureaucrat's visit to Far East

Ottoman bureaucrat Mustafa Bin Mustafa who wrote about his visit to the region said that he was hosted by Cahor Sultan Ebubekir Khan for one year in Singapore as they attached a great importance to Ottoman Empire.

Mustafa said he had chance to visit several countries in the region.